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Cantata BWV 95
Christus, der ist mein Leben
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of October 16, 2005

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 16, 2005)
BWV 95 - Intro to Weekly Discussion

Identification:

The cantata which has been selected, based upon the chronological sequence of Bach's performances, for this week's discussion is BWV 95 "Christus, der ist mein Leben" which had its first performance in Leipzig on September 12, 1723.

Provenance:

Only a set of almost all of the original parts has survived. These were mainly copied by Johann Andreas Kuhnau (1703-sometime after 1745) from the autograph score which disappeared during C. P. E. Bach's lifetime during which he probably presented it as a gift or sold it off. Kuhnau had also prepared the initial untransposed continuo part (now lost.) Other copyists involved in creating the parts were Christian Gottlob Meißner (1707-1760) who used Kuhnau's continuo part to create another continuo part and the transposed, partly figured organ continuo part. Also two other unidentified individuals prepared the violin doublets. All parts were carefully revised and corrected by Bach who supplied numerous dynamic markings, directions such as 'Aria senza l'organo' ('the aria to be performed without organ' - the NBA editors are not 100% certain that this notation was Bach's) after Meißner had included this mvt. in his transposed continuo part, and Bach added missing fermatas in Mvt. 7 and also took measures to ensure that the parts playable on an ordinary oboe would indeed be playable by the "Hautbois d'Amour."

Dating the Composition and Performances

Alfred Dürr based the date of the 1st performance on September 12, 1723 upon the following observations regarding the original set of parts: 1) the watermark (MA in its smaller form); 2) the analysis of the handwriting of both Kuhnau and Meißner; and 3) the notation of the oboe d'amore in a French violin clef.

It can no doubt be assumed that there were additional performances of this cantata under Bach's direction during his lifetime, but no evidence for this has yet been found.

Original Title and Designation

In lieu of the missing autograph score, the title and designation of this cantata in Kuhnau's handwriting on the cover page for the original parts provide perhaps a close resemblance to the original:

Domin: 16 post Trinit: | Christus der ist mein Leben,
sterben ist etc. | a | 4 Voci | Corno |
2 Hautbois d'Amour | 2 Violini | Viola | con |
Continuo | di Sign: | JSBach

Text:

The librettist for the texts not deriving from chorales is unknown.

This cantata is rather unique among Bach's cantatas in that it makes use of 4 different chorale texts:

1) "Christus, der ist mein Leben" (Mvt. 1 uses verse 1 of this chorale)

2) "Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin" (Mvt. 1 uses verse 1 of this chorale)

3) "Valet will ich dir geben" (Mvt. 3 uses verse 1 of this chorale)

4) "Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist" (Mvt. 7 uses verse 4 of this chorale)

For more information on the origin of these chorale texts and their melodies, follow the links given below. Find out more about the chorale texts (an English translation is given) as well as all the other instances where Bach employs this chorale text or refers to it. Also find out more about the authors of the chorale texts):

Christus, der ist mein Leben: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale038-Eng3.htm

Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale011-Eng3.htm

Valet will ich dir geben: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale039-Eng3.htm

Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale040-Eng3.htm

For chorale melodies:

For more information on the origin of the chorale melodies used in this cantata, follow the links. Not only will you be able to read about the composer of the melody (if there is one that can be identified,) but you will also see where Bach also employed this melody in his compositions. There are viewable musical samples to see just how Bach uses the melody as well as a list of other composers who also based their compositions on this melody.

Christus, der ist mein Leben: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Christus-der-ist-mein-Leben.htm

Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Mit-Fried-und-Freud.htm

Valet will ich dir geben: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Valet-will-ich-dir-geben.htm

Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Wenn-mein-Stundlein.htm

For the original German text of the entire cantata (if you do not have it at your disposal) go to: http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~wfb/cantatas/95.html

For translations of the cantata text into English, French, Hebrew, Indonesian or Spanish go to:

In English:
by Ambrose: http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/BWV95.html
by Dellal (Emmanuel Music) side-by-side: http://www.emmanuelmusic.org/notes_trans/transl_cantata/bwv095.htm

In French (Bischof): http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~wfb/fcantatas/95.html

In French (by Grivois, note-to-note): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV95-Fre4.htm

In Hebrew (by Oron): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV95-Heb1.htm

In Indonesian (Pardede, word-for-word): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV95-Ind.htm

In Spanish (by Casabona): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV95-Spa5.htm

Liturgical Connection:

The associated readings for this chorale cantata for 16th Sunday after Trinity are: Epistle: Ephesians 3: 13-21; Gospel: Luke 7: 11-17

Alfred Dürr sees the best connection established between the libretto and the readings as found in the Gospel reading. With this text in mind, the librettist can express his contempt for the world as well as his longing for death. Although there is no explicit connection made between the Gospel episode ("Jesus restores to life a widow's son") and the cantata text, the final recitative (Mvt. 6) does hint rather strongly that such a connection was intended: it gives the reason for wishing to die: "For I know and believe firmly that I will have secure access to the Father from my grave..and will be able to base my resurrection cheerfully on my Savior." The librettist tries to say that "just as the widow's son was reawakened to life by Jesus, so, likewise, will He also reawaken me."

Musical Scores:

For those who wish to follow a vocal & piano score, this is available at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV095-V&P.pdf

For musical samples from the recordings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Mus/BWV95-Mus.htm

Short Introductory Commentaries

For those who wish a short commentary which presents only certain highlights, see

Crouch: http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/works/bachjs/cantatas/095.html

Eriksson (AMG): http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=42:4302~T1

Smith (Emmanuel): http://www.emmanuelmusic.org/notes_trans/notes_cantata/bwv095.htm

Reyes (in Spanish): http://www.cantatasdebach.com/95.html

From Former Discussions: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV95-Guide.htm

Commentary included is derived from W. Murray Young, Chafe, Finscher (Program Notes), Suzuki (Program Notes), Spitta, Voigt, Schweitzer, and Dürr

A Commentary by Nicholas Anderson from "Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach" ed. Boyd [Oxford University Press, 1999]:

>>"Christus, der ist mein Leben" ("Christ, who is my life"). Cantata for the 16th Sunday after Trinity, BWV 95. The appointed Gospel reading relates St Luke's account of the raising from the dead of the young son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7: 11-17). It is clear, in view of both the present work and Bach's three other extant cantatas for this Sunday (nos. 161, 8, and 27), that the story was understood symbolically to represent man's resurrection to eternal life. Bach first performed the piece at Leipzig on 12 September 1723.

The unidentified author of the text incorporates into his scheme single verses from four different hymns, each with its associated melody. Two of these are contained in the opening chorus, an ingenious, experimental, and highly original composition whose complexity of design holds surprises for the unsuspecting ear. It is made up of three component parts forming a pattern of chorus-recitative-chorus. An instrumental opening, in which a syncopated figure in the divided oboe d'amore parts is answered by the upper strings, leads to the first hymn, "Christus, der ist mein Leben" (c. 1609), whose melody, by Melchior Vulpius, is sustained in the soprano line. The four lines of the strophe are presented in four distinct choral sections whose chordal declamation is broken only once, at the words "Sterben ist mein Gewinn" ("To die is my reward"). Here, with a sudden change from (implied) 'forte' to 'piano,' Bach brings in the voices one by one on successive dissonances, arriving at a diminished 7th chord followed by a pause. A bridge is formed between this hymn and the next by an extended declamatory passage for solo tenor made up of arioso and simple recitative, punctuated by instrumental references to the syncopated figure from the previous section. A sequence of key changes (beginning in G major and ending on the dominant of G minor) leads to the second hymn melody, sung to the first strophe of Luther's "Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin" (1524; a paraphrase of the "Nunc dimittis"). The lines of the chorale are separated this time not by independent motivic material, but by "Vorimitation" of the melody on horn and oboes (replacing the oboes d'amore heard previously) over a running quaver bass. The sturdy character of Luther's hymn, and the thematic homogeneity achieved by the presence of its melody in both the vocal and the instrumental strands, give strength and uniformity to this section of the movement.

Following this superbly constructed chorus is a simple recitative for soprano whose text bids farewell to life's transient pleasures. It leads into the third chorale of the cantata, the first strophe of Valerius Herberger's "Valet will ich dir geben" (1613), set to its melody by Melchior Teschner. Bach cast the movement as a trio in which the soprano sustains the cantus firmus, accompanied by two unison oboes d'amore and an ostinato continuo bass. Both the playful character of the oboe d'amore writing and the lively gestures of the continuo give this captivating chorale setting a lyrical, even dance-like quality.

The next two numbers are for tenor, their texts intensifying man's longing for death on earth and eternal life with Christ. After a simple recitative, Bach introduces an aria of outstanding beauty in which the pictorial imagery of tolling bells at the last hour plays a prominent role. While divided oboes d'amore evoke an appropriately swinging rhythm for the bells, the bells themselves are heard, large and small so to speak, in the pizzicato playing of the strings. The urgent, declamatory tenor line, addressed largely to the ultimate tolling of the death knell, remains in a conspicuously high vocal register almost throughout this extended da capo aria in D major.

A bass recitative, merging into arioso, underlines the believer's faith in everlasting life. The cantata ends with the fourth chorale quoted in the piece, the fourth strophe of the hymn "Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist," with text (1560) and melody (1569) by Nikolaus Herman. Bach's setting includes an independent violin line, providing a fifth voice, soaring above the vocal strands to symbolize the risen Christ. NA<<

{NA Nicholas Anderson studied at New College, Oxford, and Durham University. For 20 years he worked for the BBC as a music producer, specializing in the Baroque repertory. Since 1991 he has acted as a consultant for the Erato and Teldec record companies, and has continued broadcasting, teaching, and writing. He is the author of "Baroque Music from Monteverdi to Handel" (1994) and has contributed to "The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians" as well as to various symposiums and journals.}

Recordings:

For a list of all known recordings of this cantata, see: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV95.htm

The list includes, in chronological order: Ramin [1], Heintze [2], Bauer [3], Rilling [4], Harnoncourt [5], Koopman [6], Suzuki [7], Leusink [8], and Gardiner [9].

This is an outstanding cantata. If this is your first Bach cantata, you will be in for a special treat. Here's wishing all of you all a wonderful listening experience no matter which recording you may be listening to.

BTW, does anyone have any ideas what the wonderful echo-effect played by the 2nd oboe d'amore at various points in the tenor aria (Mvt. 5) might signify? Is there any connection here with the text? Is this a musical device, a "Schlußdevise" now found in an instrumental part where it does not belong?

Alain Bruguieres wrote (October 16, 2005)
[To Thomas Braatz] Thank you very much, Thomas, for this remarkable introduction. By the way, this cantata - and its introduction, illustrates very well how precious the new chorale pages are! Indeed this cantata is a real treat.

Thomas' question about the echo effect in the tenor aria is very interesting. This cantata has a very heavy theological purpose, and therefore I'm not inclined to interpret it as a purely musical effect - however nice it may sound! I would hazard an unwarranted and amateurish explanation: this aria is a longing supplication, a craving for liberation through death. To me this echo suggests a repeateplea, and perhaps even the hand gesture associated with it (two oboes = two hands?). Many phrases end in an ascending, questioning intonation and the echo conveys a sense of insistence, urgency. Does anybody else feel it that way?

Having (probably incorrectly, and not to his satisfaction) solved Thomas's echo problem, I feel free to confess that this cantata is a serious problem for me, to, on a different ground. The problem is, I love it. Let me explain. In his works and especially in his cantatas, Bach illustrates a number of concepts to which I can adhere more or less easily. Although I don't consider myself a believer, I can easily believe that love is supreme force in this world and all others when I listen to cantata BWV 77, say. The 'Bach' concept I find hardest to accept is the longing for death which is very explicitly and convincingly expressed in many cantatas. This I find hard - not to say impossible - to reconcile with my personal philosophy. And on the other hand, the cantatas which illustrate this longing are precisely the ones I find most moving and I which I keep listening to... Such is especially the case with 'Christus, der ist mein Leben...' The opening chorus is very strange; of course formally it is quite atypical. But there's more to it. I believe it's the contrast between the two chorals, as if the 1st one were sung in our world, and the 2nd were reaching us from the other shore... Well, I don't expect anybody (not with a lower-case 'a' at any rate!) to solve this problem for me, but it's good to voice it...

Peter Smaill wrote (October 17, 2005)
Since this moving and powerful Cantata was last reviewed in 2001 we have had the issue of John Eliot Gardiner's vigorous-rythmed and at times numinous interpretation [9] (Padmore in 95/5, "Schlage doch", is outstanding ("astonishing pathos" is Gardiner's description, and he is reputedly hard to please!)). Suzuki [7] is attractive too but the contrast with Harnoncourt's rough handling [5] shows the more modern performances are allowing this great work to emerge from the shadows. Indeed, Gardiner himself speaks of his special pleasure in performing BWV 95 (in Santiago da Compostela) having heard it many years prior to the Pilgrimage and never in between. Several postings seem to agree-it is a Cantata that few were familiar with and yet it is both instantly accessible (lots of chorales) and profoundly moving.

Last week I hazarded a view that the musical similarities (chorale intensity) and image relationships (longing for, and assurance in, death) indicate a bond between BWV 95 and BWV 138. Marie Jensen, in the 2001 discussions also picked up on the relationship between the two, and certainly the succeeding cantata BWV 148 "Bringet den Herrn Ehre...), the first use of Picander, is not all similar. Some especial experimentation in the superimposition of the solo voice/arioso on chorales was going on in BWV 95 and BWV 138; and while there are many conventional chorale cantatas to come in the series, the two appear as a special twin. Both similarities, and paradociacally, differences tend to unite them.

There are other textual reasons for this coupling. Fortuitously Suzuki [7] plays them in succession, so the libretti can be easily read in sequence.

BWV 138 is one of the few non-Council cantatas in which (as mentioned by me before) there is no mention of Jesus; all the biblical textual sources are therefore OT. Christians receive salvation through a God who will not forsake them ("Dein Kind wirst du verlassen nicht"). No mention of the Son! Theologically this is significant, for of course there is a stark contrast with Jesus words on the Cross, as set in the SMP (BWV 244): "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" ("My God, my God, why hast though forsaken me?")

Theologically BWV 138 is incomplete without BWV 95, because it is only per the resurrection that the Christian is assured that he will not be forsaken - becoming a partaker in Christ's death and also His resurrection. Otherwise the Leipzigers would have had the same objection to BWV 138 as applied to the Brahms Requiem - no mention of Jesus in the context of contemplating death.

The detailed text similarities are in the repeated use of emphases and time-words to convey immediacy.

Hence BWV138 /1- "Ach; von Abend bis zum Morgen; ach;
/2 tage;
/3 Ach ; morgen;Tage
/4 Ach; Wenn; heute; Nun
/5 Ei; Nun

And in BWV 95/1: Heute; schon; heute (the wondrous transition from compound time to simple time by Bach in the chorales emphasise further the insistency of the message)
/2 Nun; Nun; schon (mein haus ist schon bestelle - cf BWV 106 where the same image occurs) ; wenn
/3 ewig
/4 bald, Ende; alle stunden
/5 bald; stunde; sterbenstag; allerletzen
/6 nun
/7 letzes

The effect of this succession of Ah! Today! Ah when! Now! Morning and night! Soon, shortly, now, eternally, deathday, always, ever, last - these emphases push the believer forward from the transient to the eternal across the two Cantatas.

Bach's response to Time gives some of the greatest creations: BWV 106, "Gottes Zeit is der allerbeste Zeit; BWV 20 "O Ewigkeit du Donnerwort," and BWV 8 "Liebster gott,wann werd ich sterben?" to which can be added the Cantatas analysed by Eric Chafe in his essay "Anfang und Ende" (A and O"), namely BWV 1, BWV 31, BWV 41, BWV 75, BWV 76. The depiction of Time via the ticking clocks of BWV 95/5 (and the tolling bells of BWV 8, also for Trinity 16) is thus perhaps part of a wider fascination in the baroque for imagery linked to time.

Some further reflections ; the "Sodom's apple" image (BWV 95/2) is a rare extract from Josephus, not the Bible; as has been noted on this topic, the Lutheran Church also read out Josephus' account of the destruction of Jerusalem in Holy Week. The lullaby/sterbenlied "Schlage doch" is certainly not a unique conflation of the rhythms of the new-born with the sentiments of the dying; there are the oboe lullaby motifs in SMP's final alto aria "Sehet, Jesu hat die hand"; and the final piece in many arrangements of the Orgelbüchlien, "Alle Menschen müssen sterben." Certainly lots of consecutive thirds in the last piece, as is commonly the case in lullabies.

I wonder how the Leipzig congregation must have reacted to the syncopated dance rythmns, operatic soloist interventions and pizzicato display interspersed with their most solemn chorales! As Robertson says, " there is no hint of morbidity in this cantata...the voices at "dying is my gain" build a chord downwards on successive sustained notes ending on a discord...this is one of the most wonderful and visionary passages in the cantatas ".

Beil Halliday wrote (October 17, 2005)
Mvt. 1.
Oboes and strings answer one another by means of inverting a shared, syncopated motive; then the strings launch into an ecstatic phrase (Emmanuel Smith commentary) representing the release of resurrection. I thought this to be a gently consoling phrase (listening to Rilling [4]), but I like Smith's idea.

The chorale melody, beautifully harmonised, is interrupted by the astounding downward chord on `sterben' [here Rilling's lower voices [4] are nearly inaudible; JEG's choir [9] most successfully captures the notes of this chord, in the samples I have heard].

The ensuing recitative sung by the tturns out not to be secco, but accompanied, with one line of text followed by a phrase on oboes, and the next line of text by the violins (these phases were heard in the opening ritornello), and so on, until the oboes and strings combine.

In the 3rd section, the horn in the opening ritornello initially announces the 1st line of the chorale tune in diminution (ie, the tune is in 1/4 notes, cf. the 1/2 length notes sung by the choir) and this method persists line by line in the subsequent intervening
ritornellos; however, the situation is complicated by the existence of other notes in the horn part which follow the actual chorale quote, so you have to be alert to hear when the horn ceases playing the chorale tune and starts with (unrelated?) free-form material. Canons between the horn and other instruments also occur in this structurally complex section.

The soprano `aria' is a lovely trio between voice, oboes and continuo.

Thinking about the tenor aria, I tried to imagine what it would sound like if a small chime actually sounded at the beginning, and after each oboe echo. The upper strings can only be imitating a clock mechanism, and the slower, deeper pizzicato of the continuo only obliquely suggests tolling bells. (BTW, a wonderful example of an actual tolling bell is heard in Arvo Part's `Cantus in Remembrance of Benjamin Britten').

Any way, this aria is the personification of charm and delight, whatever the text, and whatever tone painting Bach intended. Does the repeated oboe echo represent the slow ebbing away of a dying person's life? If only the experience of dying was as pleasant as this music!

Re the recordings, Rilling's final chorale [4] has organ mechanism noise at the beginning of each line; otherwise this is a fine performance, with a flowing violin line, and prominent horn part. The brittle, `mannered' violin line in some HIP examples lacks meaningful impact (IMO).

The tempos of the various recordings are shown in a table supplied by Thomas Braatz in the previous BCW discussions. Take your pick (I found JEG [9], mentioned above, to be rushed in the opening movement). Overall, Rilling [4] gets my vote.

John Pike wrote (October 17, 2005)
[To Alain Bruguieres] I agree. These are some of the very finest cantatas. Some months ago we discussed BWV 161 "Komm, du süße Todesstunde". Before our discussions I hardly knew this work but it is now one of my very favourites. We took the Suzuki recording of it on holiday with us and I heard it many times over those 2 weeks... very beautiful indeed.

Neil Halliday wrote (October 19, 2005):
'lighter strings' in BWV 95; and pizzicato

It's interesting to compare the strings in Suzuki [7] and Gardiner [9], in the opening movement of BWV 95.

Once again, JEG seems to prefer the lighter strings, as was the case in the opening ritornello of BWV 138.

Listening to Gardiner [9], I'm amazed by the marked decrescendo he brings to the passage leading up to "Sterben"; I did praise JEG for making the bass notes of the choir audible at this point, but one has to listen very carefully to hear them at this low volume.

Concerning the imagery of pizzicato strings, I notice that in BWV 8/2 and BWV 161/4, the reference is to "Stundeschlag"; only 95/5 actually refers to "Glockenschlag" (which is why I wondered what a chime would sound like at the start of 95/5 - not that the music needs it, because Bach's score is charming enough).

John Pike wrote (October 19, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< This is an outstanding cantata. If this is your first Bach cantata, you will be in for a special treat. Here's wishing all of you all a wonderful listening experience no matter which recording you may be listening to.
It leads into the third chorale of the cantata, the first strophe of
Valerius Herberger's "Valet will ich dir geben" ( 1613), set to its melody by Melchior Teschner. Bach cast the movement as a trio in which the soprano sustains the cantus firmus, accompanied by two unison oboes d'amore and an ostinato continuo bass. Both the playful character of the oboe d'amore writing and the lively gestures of the continuo give this captivating chorale setting a lyrical, even dance-like quality.
The next two numbers are for tenor, their texts intensifying man's longing for death on earth and eternal life with Christ. After a simple recitative, Bach introduces an aria of outstanding beauty in which the pictorial imagery of tolling bells at the last hour plays a prominent role. While divided oboes d'amore evoke an appropriately swinging rhythm for the bells, the bells themselves are heard, large and small so to speak, in the pizzicato playing of the strings. The urgent, declamatory tenor line, addressed largely
to the ultimate tolling of the death knell, remains in a conspicuously high vocal register almost throughout this extended da capo aria in D major. >
I agree with this. I came across it first a few years ago when we played a few ovments from it at church. It was not my first cantata by a long way but it was the cantata that persuaded me to get recordings of them all, and not just the very well known ones. The tenor aria is an absolute gem and so, I feel, is the 3rd chorale, in which the accompaniment especially is absolutely divine.

I will write again after I have listened to a few more recordings.

John Pike wrote (October 21, 2005):
BWV 95

I wrote yesterday to say what a wonderful cantata this is. I have now listened to Suzuki [7], Gardiner [9], Leusink [8], Rilling [4] and Harnoncourt [5]. I enjoyed them all apart from the soprano soloist in Harnoncourt's recording, who I found quite harsh and with problems in intonation. Otherwise, Harnoncourt's recording is very good, especially the tenor aria. Indeed, all of these recordings include fine accounts of this masterpiece aria, but it is Mark Padmore for Gardiner who really shines in this aria...very deeply moving and heartfelt. For my taste I would say he is in a different league from the other fine soloists in this aria.

Stephen Benson wrote (October 21, 2005):
John Pike wrote:
< it is Mark Padmore for Gardiner [9] who really shines in this aria...very deeply moving and heartfelt. For my taste I would say he is in a different league from the other fine soloists in this aria. >
I would totally agree. The more I listen to this cantata, the more I keep coming back to the Gardiner [9], and a large part of the reason for that is Padmore.

Roar Myrheim wrote (October 22, 2005):
I listened to all the four cantatas written for the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity, i.e. BWV 161, BWV 27, BWV 8 and BWV 95, in Gardiner's recording [9]. What beautiful music! And what a great recording!

I discovered a little detail: In cantata BWV 161, in the Alto Recitativo, Bach introduces the theme "schlage doch", that he uses in the later cantata BWV 95, in the beautiful tenor aria. Melodic, it is different, but he uses the same rhythmic pattern. In the accompaniment he uses a repetition of semiquavers on the same note, similar to the figure in the first movement of cantata BWV 8. The text in BWV 161 is: "So schlage doch, du letzter Stundenschlag!" In BWV 95 it is: "Ach, schlage doch bald, sel'ge Stunde, den allerletzten Glockenschlag!"

Not a very important thing, maybe, but it shows how Bach reuses thematic and mematerial.

Roar Myrheim wrote (October 22, 2005):
For those of you that play the organ - here is an (rather free) organtranscription of the third movement of cantata 95, "Valet will ich dir geben": http://home20.inet.tele.dk/pbaekgaard/valet.pdf

There are also lots of transcriptions of other cantata-movements here, too.

Roar Myrheim wrote (October 24, 2005):
Listening to Cantata 95, it's quite amazing to hear Bach's use of dissonances in the first movement, measures 21 - 26. This must have sounded quite spicy in Bach's days - in fact it does even today. The sopranos start with a high e. The altos go down a major seventh, to a natural f. When the tenors come in, we get a d-minor sixth' chord with flattened fifth. Then the basses come in with the minor seventh of this last chord in the bottom. Then, via an a-minor chord, at last we end up with a d-sharp diminished seventh chord. Since this makes a very effective colouring of the word "Sterben", I tried to listen to how the choirs managed to get these measures clear and audible.

I could only listen to Leusink [8] and Gardiner [9] in CD-quality. Harnoncourt [5], Koopman [6] and Suzuki [7] I had to listen to in reduced quality on the Internet. I also tried to listen to Ramin and Rilling, but they both played so slow, that the one minute soundclip ended before the actual point. So here is my opinion:
Leusink [8]: The sopranos came with an uncertain intonation. I wasn't able to hear the altos. Tenors came in OK, but the basses sounded very uncertain, so there wasn't much of the effect left. (As usual with Leusink, I like the orchestra).
Harnoncourt [5]: Here the sopranos and altos came in OK, then the whole thing became very obscure. (The instrumental introduction was to me very unmusical and superficial. The violins play the semiquavers very disorderly).
Koopman [6]: Also here I had difficulties with hearing the different voices clearly.

So the only two recordings I have listened to, that managed to express these measures clearly, were Gardiner and Suzuki, and especially Gardiner.

Paul T. McCain wrote (October 24, 2005):
I really love the beautiful Luther hymn used in this cantata, Luther's "In Peace and Joy I Now Depart." What a joyful and confident confession of hope and trust in Christ Jesus, not the Bass Recit, the sixth part, "For I know this, and believe it most certainly, that I from my grave, have an altogether certain admission to the Father. My death is but a sleep, through which my body, which here by sorrows was diminished, comesto res. A shepherd seeks His lost sheep, how should Jesus not find me again, since He is my head and I am His member. Therefore, I can now ground my blessed resurrection on my Savior, with a joyful disposition."

John Pike wrote (October 24, 2005):
[To Roar Myrheim] Wonderful stuff, isn't it, and I just love the way he ends that alto recitative in BWV 161.

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 95: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

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Last update: ýMarch 12, 2012 ý22:43:17